US special envoy for Afghanistan met top Taliban officials in Qatar

US special envoy for Afghanistan met top Taliban officials in Qatar
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DOHA – The US envoy for Afghanistan peace efforts, Zalmay Khalilzad met Taliban representatives in Qatar on Friday, as per a report carried by the Wall Street Journal.

The leading paper citing a person familiar with the meeting, said Khalilzad met with Taliban officials in Qatar’s capital for the second time in four months as President Trump’s administration mulls to find a way to end the 17-year-old Afghan conflict.

The Journal said it was not clear what the two sides discussed; Khalilzad, the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation is trying to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table, is currently on his first trip for 11 days as the special representative to visit Afghanistan, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, and Saudi Arabia.

The US State Department declined to say whether the meeting with Taliban officials in Doha took place or not.

‘We can’t confirm specific meetings or the content of diplomatic conversations,’ said a State Department spokesperson.

‘Special Representative Khalilzad held a number of meetings with a wide range of stakeholders as part of his trip to explore how best to reach a negotiated settlement to the conflict in Afghanistan,’ added the spokesperson on the condition of anonymity.

The meeting comes months after Alice Wells, the State Department’s deputy assistant secretary for South and Central Asia, met Taliban officials in July for what was described as talks about talks. A Taliban official who was part of the four-person delegation to that meeting said it produced ‘very positive signals’.

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